Home Smart 100 2012 Serval Mesh (SMART 100)

Serval Mesh (SMART 100)


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The following SMART 100 profile and the information it contains is a duplication of content submitted by the applicant during the entry process. As a function of entry, applicants were required to declare that all details are factually correct, do not infringe on another’s intellectual property and are not unlawful, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, obscene, or otherwise objectionable. Some profiles have been edited for reasons of space and clarity. More about the SMART 100.

Serval Mesh (SA)

This innovation initially came to life when…

I heard of the devastation caused by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Telecommunications took two weeks to be fully restored, contributing to the loss of civil order, seriously hampering rescue efforts and causing untold stress to survivors who could not contact loved ones. I realised that I had the skills and opportunity to make a positive difference in similar future catastrophes and set about creating a telecommunications system that could operate without relying on large, expensive and easily damaged infrastructure. My vision has attracted a talented, passionate and dedicated team, who are now turning it into reality.


The purpose of this innovation is to…

Put affordable and robust mobile telecommunications within the reach of every human regardless of poverty, geographical isolation, crisis or conflict. It is software that allows mobile phones to call, text and share files and data directly, without intermediate infrastructure.

It does this by…

Utilising the WiFi capabilities of modern mobile telephones. Serval Mesh-enabled telephones can automatically form mesh networks and communicate directly. Phones on the mesh also relay data for one another, enabling communications over distance. This is combined with a distributed number resolution system that allows people to make mesh phone calls and send SMS, photos or files using their existing phone numbers.


This innovation improves on what came before because…

Until now, mobile telephone users have been beholden to their service carrier and are restricted in their usage by coverage and cost. Furthermore, mobile telephone services readily fail in areas hit by natural disaster. Serval Mesh is a low-cost, high-resilience alternative where standard services cannot reach, temporarily or otherwise, or where they are overwhelmed or unaffordable.

Its various benefits to the customer/end-user include…

Telephone service where it is unaffordable or unavailable, improving people’s safety and quality of life. Mobile phone-based, it’s easy to use and doesn’t require any new hardware. For organisations it can provide lower costs and less dependence on telecommunication companies.


In the past, this problem was solved by…

Radio equipment that is expensive, requires training to use, and/or lacks the rich feature set of modern smartphones and networks, such as clear and private communications. These limitations mean that radio communications have never been a practical solution for the vast majority. In contrast, our solution combines the autonomy of radio with the richness and low cost of modern smartphones.

Its predecessors/competitors include…

Radio vendors on the one hand, and OpenBTS on the other, a low-cost GSM base-station system that requires spectrum licenses to operate, and only offers 2G services. Only Serval lets mobile phones call, SMS and share data without any network.


It is made for…

People who need communications that are resilient and low-cost. It is not meant to replace the reliable telecommunications provided by standard services, but to fill in the gaps. Thus, it is for organisations, agencies and their personnel seeking to reduce costs by bypassing carrier networks, or to communicate and transfer data in remote, disaster-struck or unstable locations. It is also for vendors who want a resilient communications platform on which to layer a broad range of products and services, e.g. field data collection systems, medical monitoring, situation awareness, environmental sensing and industrial control to name a few.


It is available for sale through…

The Android market, from the Serval Project’s website, or by transferring it from a phone that has the Serval Mesh already installed. Full public release will occur in Q3 2012, while customised versions for specific markets are made to order.

Our marketing strategy is to…

Give away the basic software for free. We will continue networking with key organisations like the Red Cross and maintain our prominence in the media. We are partnering with mobile phone vendors to produce handsets optimised for our software. There are many possible use cases for our software, and we are offering customisation and derivative products for various sectors.


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